The Armenian Plateau and the Caucasus have always been at the crossroads of civilization, both geographically and culturally. From ancient times, people have crossed this region, which served as part of the Silk Road, to get from the East to the West and vice versa. As far back as the Roman Empire, Armenia was of geopolitical interest to the Assyrians, Parthian and Romans. After Christianity spread through much of the West, Armenia came to be seen as an ally to the West, and thus Arabs and Persians began invading the country, forcing it to become a buffer zone between the East and the West. Arabs took control of Armenia in the 7th century, and it wasn't until the Bagratid Dynasty was established in the 9th century that Armenia was able to break free from Arab rule. The Bagratid Dynasty was responsible for the second Golden Age of Armenia, a time when peace brought prosperity to the land and its people. Many monasteries were commissioned by the Bagratid rulers for construction in Armenia and Georgia. A monk named Gregory wrote a book of prayers in the monastery of Narek on the shore of Lake Van. The depth and beauty of his prayers were unparalleled in the world. Peace and prosperity were shattered by the arrival of Seljuk Turks in the 11th century, who were proceeded by other Turkic tribes from the East. The Seljuk Turks fought against the Persians, using Armenia as their battlefield and wreaking havoc on the country. The last Armenian kingdom was forced to the shores of the Mediterranean Sea, where it survived until the 14th century in Cilicia. With the onset of the Mongols in the 13th century, successive waves of invasions continued to devastate the country. After Constantinople fell to the Ottomans, Armenia too was overtaken in the early 16th century. The Persians persisted to lay claims on Armenian soil, and Shah Abbas drove the Ottomans out of Tbilisi, Yerevan, Nakhichevan, Nagorno-Karabakh, and Azerbaijan. He also force marched tens of thousands of Armenians, noted for their artistic and business skills, out of their ancestral homeland of Nakhichevan from the prosperous city of Julfa to Esfahan. In the first century BC Armenia was conquered by the Roman Empire, followed by Persia in 387 and the Caliphate in the seventeenth century. Armenia regained independence in the ninth century under the name of Ani. Ani was conquered by the East Roman Empire in the eleventh century. In the twelfth century it was a puppet state of Georgia, in 1235-1239 it was conquered by the Mongols and in 1550 it became part of the Sefewide state. In 1555 Armenia was divided between Turkey and Persia: Western Armenia became part of the Ottoman Empire and Eastern Armenia became part of Persia. Persia transferred Eastern Armenia to Russia in 1828. At the end of the century intellectuals formed an Armenian independence movement, striving after the formation of a liberal democracy. In both parts of Armenia the Armenians were suppressed. Both in 1895 and in 1915-1917 the Armenians suffered from massacres in the Ottoman Empire. After the communist victory in Russia in 1917, Russian troops left the Caucasus. In 1918 the independence of the Republic of Armenia was declared to prevent annexation by either the Ottoman Empire or neighboring Azerbaijan. After the treaty of Sèvres (1920) most of West Armenia became part of Turkey and the independence of Armenia was recognized by Turkey. Under pressure of communist advances in the Caucasus the HHD formed a coalition government with the communists. Communists seized power in 1920 and establish the Armenian Soviet Socialist Republic, that joined Transcaucasia in 1922 and with Transcaucasia formed the USSR the same year. Turkey and Azerbaijan imposed an energy and transportation blockade on landlocked Armenia, leaving only the Georgian border to the north and a small border with Iran to the south as means to transport much needed goods, including humanitarian aid, into the country. In 1990 the Republic of Armenia declared independence and in 1991 it was the first state to secede from the USSR. Armenia was a presidential republic without a real democratic culture. President Levon Ter-Petrosyan of the Hayots Hamazgain Sharzhum (Pan-Armenian National Movement, HHSh) was elected president in 1991 with a huge majority. He resigned in 1998 and that year the non-partisan candidate Robert Kocharyan won the presidential elections. Kocharyan was re-elected in 2003. Parliament was dominated since 2003 by the Hayastani Hanrapetakan Kusaktsutyun (Republican Party of Armenia, HHK) of Prime Minister Serj Sargsyan.
Despite dispersion and effects of globalization which have drawn Armenians to the four corners of the world, Armenians continue to uphold strong cultural, religious, and historical customs and traditions, and have a rekindled spirit regarding their homeland, Armenia.